By Paul Thompson
On the afternoon of Wednesday, October 4, Northeast High School received an anonymous tip about a potential threat at the school.
According to Northeast High School principal Douglas Bolden, he swiftly informed the KCPS security team and district administrators of the threat. Ultimately, KCPS decided to open Northeast for a normal day of classes on Thursday, October 5, albeit with additional security and safeguards in place.
KCPS Public Relations and News Coordinator Ray Weikal told the Northeast News that a similar threat – later deemed to be unfounded – was reported anonymously exactly one year ago, on October 5, 2016.
Bolden noted in a letter sent home with students on October 5 that he and the district are working with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department as it works to investigate the threat.
“We understand that students and families may be rattled (by) these types of threats, particularly with the recent tragic events in Las Vegas,” Bolden wrote. “Parents can help allay fears by remaining calm, staying factual and talking with their children about their concerns.”
Bolden included a list of steps that parents can take to assist KCPS with these kinds of situations.
First, he recommended that parents remind their children that people who care are handling the situation, and that school threats turn out to be hoaxes more often than not. He also assured parents that district officials take all threats seriously, and that if the incident is eventually deemed to be a hoax, those caught “will be held accountable for their actions.”
Second, Bolden asked that parents consider the situation before posting concerns on social media. To that end, he requested that parents verify information they hear with school officials or another “credible source” before sharing them publicly. He warned that the spread of misinformation can lead to an unnecessary increase in fear and anxiety.
Third, he asked that anyone (student or parent alike) who sees suspicious activity step forward to report it immediately. Legitimate threats should be reported to the proper authorities immediately. Knowingly participating in a false report or a hoax, however, is a significant violation of the KCPS Code of Conduct.
Finally, Bolden encouraged students to reach out to an adult if they are worried or concerned. He added that school counselors, teachers and administrators can be valuable assets for students experiencing emotional or behavioral issues.
“We will continue to take every step necessary to ensure that our students are safe and secure,” Bolden concluded, before thanking parents for their cooperation.